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American who hijacked jet to Cuba gets 20 years

July 17, 2014

MIAMI (AP) — An American who returned from Cuba decades after hijacking a jetliner to the communist island has been sentenced to 20 years in U.S. prison but will be eligible for early release on parole.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore imposed the sentenced Thursday on William Potts Jr. for the 1984 hijacking of the jet en route from New York to Miami. Potts had pleaded guilty to a kidnapping charge.

The U.S. sentence effectively gives Potts credit for 13 years he served in Cuban prison because he would be eligible for release on parole after nearly seven years.

Potts apologized in court and said he is no longer the self-described black militant who claimed in a note to a flight attendant that he planned to blow up the flight.

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