British espionage writer John Le Carre said he was tempted to defect to the Soviet Union when he worked for British intelligence agency MI6, according to an interview published Sunday.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 76-year-old novelist was quoted as saying he was curious about what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

"I wasn't tempted ideologically," he was quoted as saying. "But when you spy intensively and you get closer and closer to the border ... it seems such a small step to jump ... and you know, find out the rest."

Le Carre — whose real name is David Cornwell — has firsthand experience with defection and betrayal. He began working for British intelligence in 1949, being posted to Bonn and Hamburg in what was then West Germany, but the Times said his career was derailed by British defector Kim Philby.