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Hijacker returns to US after 30 years in Cuba

After his jail term ended, William Potts (center) was given permanent residency in Cuba. But the “homesick hijacker” now wants to take his chances with the US justice system.
After his jail term ended, William Potts (center) was given permanent residency in Cuba. But the “homesick hijacker” now wants to take his chances with the US justice system.Ramon Espinosa/associated press

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MIAMI — An American who hijacked an airliner to Cuba nearly 30 years ago as a self-described revolutionary flew back home Wednesday to face US justice.

FBI agents took William Potts, 56, into custody shortly after his charter flight from Havana landed at Miami International Airport, said FBI spokesman Mike Leverock. Potts faces a 1985 federal indictment charging him with air piracy for hijacking a Piedmont Airlines flight in 1984.

In interviews prior to leaving Cuba, Potts said he was seeking ‘‘closure’’ and hoped to persuade US prosecutors to give him credit for the 13-plus years he spent in Cuban prison for hijacking the flight. The US charge carries a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison, according to federal prosecutors.

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