British freelance environmental photographer Steve Morgan appeared with Greenpeace protesters in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour of consp-iracy to trespass at Vandenberg Air Force base, California.
The hearing followed a peaceful protest against the Star Wars missile test at the base last July. Morgan has always maintained he was there only in a professional capacity.
His plea was the result of plea bargaining between defence counsel and the US Attorney’s office which has led to the dropping of double felony charges against the defendants. It was an all-or-nothing deal with the defendants having to agree to sign and plead guilty to the lesser charge in order for the deal to go through.
The prosecution is not asking for the jailing of most of the defendants – expected to include Morgan – and the first stages of sentencing will begin next week.
All 17 defendants pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanour charge of conspiring to enter a military base, which carries a potential jail term of six months.
By Jean Morgan