'Homesick Hijacker' Returns to US After 29 Years

William Potts in FBI custody after return from Cuba

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Nov 7, 2013 2:17 AM CST

(Newser) – An American who hijacked an airliner to Cuba nearly 30 years ago as a self-described revolutionary was in custody today, a day after returning home on a charter flight from Havana. The FBI says agents took William Potts, 56, into custody shortly after his flight arrived at Miami International Airport. Potts, who says he has returned to his homeland to seek "closure," faces a 1985 federal indictment charging him with air piracy for the hijack of a Miami-bound flight in 1984. Calling himself "Lt. Spartacus, a soldier in the Black Liberation Army," he told a flight attendant he had explosive devices aboard and forced the plane to land in Havana.

Potts said he thought Cuba would welcome him and offer him training as a guerrilla. Instead, he was tried and convicted of air piracy and served 13 years in Cuban prisons. He was granted permanent residency in Cuba after serving his sentence. "My position is I am a free man. I have served my time," Potts, who has described himself as the "homesick hijacker," told reporters. "But they seem to have another concept. They are going to take control of me. I will be under their authority." The US charge against him carries a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison.

William Potts says goodbye to his wife before American officials escort him to the airport in Havana, Cuba.
William Potts says goodbye to his wife before American officials escort him to the airport in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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