Friday, February 7, 2014

Former hijacker to Obama: "Set me free"

"From: Convicted Hijacker William Potts"
A letter arrived today from William Potts, a former hijacker now in jail in Fort Lauderdale. But the letter wasn't addressed to me - it's for President Barack Obama.
Potts, a former member of the Black Panthers, hijacked a plane to Cuba 30 years ago. Cuban authorities didn't welcome him. They jailed him and he spent some 15 years in prison.
In his four-page letter to Obama, Potts calls the hijacking a "lamentable episode of my youth."
He writes:
Mr. President, I respectfully submit to you the fact that I did indeed commit the crime, but for the crime I did the time...
The facts of the case, he writes:
...present a dilemma for the prosecution, something akin to a ten ton white elephant sitting next to you on the sofa in your living room, it's rather difficult to completely ignore.
The prosecutor, he contends, is "undeterred by the undeniable facts in this case" and "persists in her ambitious endeavor of incarcerating me, seeking for me, as it were a minimum of 20 years to life..."

And Potts contends that his lawyer isn't much better. He writes:
And how is it too that my court appointed lawyer's only objective from the very outset of our very first encounter was not to defend me in the name of justice, as one might be excused for presuming was his solemn duty, but instead, and in collaboration with the prosecuting attorney, was to send me, yet again, to prison for the very same offence? (sic)."
Potts believes the authorities are discriminating against him because he's black. He said after he left Cuba, went to Florida and turned himself in, he was thrown into solitary confinement for nearly two months.
"The Soul Breaker," he calls it.
William Potts
He said his parents drove nine hours from Atlanta to see him, but then could spend only 30 minutes talking to him via video phone before the visit was abruptly terminated.
In his letter, dated Jan. 28, Potts also complains about jail conditions in Cuba. He said he was held in "a dark, vermin infested Soviet style gulag archipelago of a prison in Cuba, where I suffered a vicious beating by the hands and boots of six prison guards..."
Potts said he also endured malnourishment and "constant exposure to the elements" along with "recurring bouts of both dysentery and pneumonia."
He wrote:
Indeed U.S. State Department officials visited me there in that prison every month for 15 years just to see if I was still alive.
Potts resents that the U.S. prosecutor wants to him to plead guilty or face 20 years to life in prison. He wrote:
This isn't justice. Not by any stretch of the imagination could this ever be, even remotely, justice. It's brutal and vengeful coercion.
What I endured in that prison in Cuba, as bad as conditions were, was more akin to justice than what the American government is concocting to use against me with their 'deal.'
Potts adds that he doesn't expect sympathy - he just doesn't believe it's fair - or legal - that he be forced to serve additional jail time for the crime.
He asks Obama to "instruct the attorney for the plaintiff in this case to stand down now and desist with the prosecution of this case because it is unjust, and it is wrong..."
He writes:
If there is any justice, fairness and decency at all left in this American justice system then set me free now, and let me go home to my children and my family. I promise never to give you cause to regret your decision.

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