Turkish writer, son accused of fleeing after crash arrested in US

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(This June 14 story has been corrected to fix the son's age to 16, not 17, in paragraph 1)

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities on Friday arrested a Turkish author and her 16-year-old son wanted by Turkey on charges he was involved in a fatal car crash in Istanbul then fled the country with the help of his mother.

Turkish novelist and poet Eylem Tok and her son, Timur Cihantimur, were arrested pursuant to an extradition request from Turkey as they were about to tour an expensive private school in Boston, according to court papers.

Their arrests were announced on the social media platform X by Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc, who said they were "captured in the United States in line with our extradition request."

According to prosecutors, the teenager was driving a Porsche on the night of March 1 when, while speeding around a corner, he crashed into a group of people on all-terrain vehicles. One person, Oguz Murat Aci, died and four others were injured.

Prosecutors said the teenager immediately fled the scene after saying something like "my life is over."

He was picked up by the family's driver, and within three or four hours Tok had bought one-way plane tickets for herself and her son from Istanbul to Cairo, Egypt, according to court papers. Authorities said they continued to the United States, landing in New York on March 2.

Turkish law enforcement had as of May believed they were in Miami and that they may have attempted to secure fraudulent passports to travel to Cuba, according to court papers.

Turkey is seeking Cihantimur's extradition so he could be prosecuted for causing reckless killing and injury, while Tok, 44, is wanted on the charge of protecting an offender.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell scheduled a Tuesday hearing at Boston's John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse to consider whether to keep them detained pending their extradition, after prosecutors in court papers argued the pair had the resources to flee given the chance.

They noted that Tok's ex-husband is a well-known plastic surgeon and said that at the time of her arrest, Tok was carrying $5,000 in cash and that the mother and son were about to tour a private school where annual tuition costs $46,000.

Brendan Kelley, a lawyer for Tok, argued she should be released, saying that under Turkish law her alleged offense carries no penalty if committed by a parent, potentially making it ineligible for extradition under a U.S.-Turkey treaty.

"She's being detained in custody for something that might not even be extraditable," he said.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Burcu Karakas; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Daniel Wallis)