William Potts Jr., a self-described black militant who hijacked a U.S. jetliner to Cuba 30 years ago, told a Miami federal judge Thursday that he was no longer that “same person.”

Potts said that after serving 13 years in a Cuban prison and raising a family on the island for another 16 years, he finally surrendered to federal authorities in November because he wanted to be reunited with his daughters, now living in the United States.

“If you just give me a chance, judge, I’ll do you proud,” Potts, 57, told U.S. District Judge Michael Moore. “I’m begging you, please, let me go back to my children.”...

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