US hijacker William Potts returns from Cuba

image captionPotts (left) was driven to a FBI field office after landing in Miami

An American man who hijacked a plane in 1984 and forced it to fly to Cuba has returned to the US.

The FBI said William Potts was taken into custody shortly after his charter flight landed in Miami on Wednesday.

Potts, now 56, commandeered a commercial flight from New Jersey to Florida with 56 passengers aboard.

He was a member of the militant African-American Black Panther movement and expected the Cuban government to give him guerrilla training.

Instead, Cuba imprisoned him for 13 years for piracy. He later settled in Havana but was keen to return to the US.

Uncertain future

Before he left Havana, he said he was seeking "closure" by facing the US justice system, which he hopes will be lenient.

"I'm ready for whatever. My position is, of course, I did the crime and I did the time, and the United States has to recognise that," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Potts had been in contact with US diplomats in Havana, who, he said, had told him that he could leave on a charter flight to Miami on Wednesday.

He expected to be handed over to US marshals upon his arrival in Florida.

"What happens after that I couldn't tell you," he said.

image captionPotts (standing shaking hands) says he is entitled to a fresh start

Potts was taken from the airport to an FBI office in Miami and is scheduled to make his first appearance in a US court on Thursday.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, dozens of US planes were hijacked to Cuba as the Cold War with then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro intensified. But by the 1980s such incidents had become less frequent and Cuba swiftly convicted Potts.

US officials have aggressively prosecuted some of the returning hijackers but gave significant sentence reductions to others who served time in other countries and pleaded guilty.

After his release Potts remained in Havana, where he married and had two daughters. His daughters now live in the United States and Potts has sought for a number of years to return to his homeland.

"Having completed my sentence, I feel like I want to put all that stuff behind me. I don't want that lingering over or impeding anything I might want to do. Once you've paid your debt to society, you're entitled to a fresh start," he said last month.

But Potts says he does not intend to settle in the US: "Just as soon as I finish taking care of this business in the United States, I certainly have every intention of returning to Cuba to live."

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