London, Sep 23 : Famed novelist and former British spy John le Carre has said that ritons have been "stripped" of their civil liberties amid an "atmosphere of panic" over the threat from terrorism. In a rare public intervention, the spy author criticised ministers for voting to extend the time limit that terror suspects can be held without charge to 42 days.
Carre's comments come only weeks ahead of a key vote in the House of Lords that could see peers throw out the Government's controversial 42-day proposals, The Telegraph reported.
The writer, who admitted he has a reputation as an angry old man, said he was furious that the Government had been allowed to get away with a sustained attack on civil liberties.
"Partly, I'm angry that there is so little anger around me at what is being done to our society, supposedly in order to protect it," said the 76-year-old in an interview in Waterstone's magazine.
"We have been taken to war under false pretences, and stripped of our civil rights in an atmosphere of panic. Our lawyers don't take to the streets as they have done in Pakistan. Our MPs allow themselves to be deluded by their own spin doctors, and end up believing their own propaganda," he said.
He added: "We haul our Foreign Secretary back from a mission to the Middle East so he can vote for 42 days' detention. People call me an angry old man. Screw them. You don't have to be old to be angry. We've sacrificed our sovereignty to a so-called special relationship which has nothing special about it except to ourselves."
The writer has been an outspoken critic of Labour Party's erosion of civil liberties.
He was one of several figures from the arts and academia who wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in March to protest at the 42-day detention limit.