JFK assassination: Thousands of records of President Kennedy's killing in 1963 made public

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By Euronews  with Reuters, AFP
In this Nov. 22, 1963, file photo, President Kennedy's hand reaches toward his head within seconds of being shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm.
In this Nov. 22, 1963, file photo, President Kennedy's hand reaches toward his head within seconds of being shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/James W. "Ike" Altgens, File

The US National Archives has released more than 13,000 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

But the White House, citing national security concerns, has blocked the release of thousands more. A batch of archives on the case had already been declassified in December 2021.

According to the National Archives, 97% of the approximately five million pages of the file are now available to the public.

The release of the latest documents was not expected to include any new bombshells or change the official conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine and communist activist who had lived in the Soviet Union, acted alone. 

However, the latest cache will be useful for historians focusing on the events around the assassination.

Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in his motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963, at the age of 46.

Thousands of books, articles, TV shows and films have explored the idea that Kennedy’s assassination was the result of an elaborate conspiracy. None have produced conclusive proof that Oswald worked with anyone else.

Many of the released documents belonged to the CIA, including several that focused on Oswald's movements and his contacts. Other documents focus on requests from the Warren Commission investigating the assassination.

The documents show that the US government opened a file on Oswald in December 1960, nearly three years before Kennedy’s murder and after Oswald’s failed defection to the Soviet Union in 1959.

In Mexico City, they "intercepted" a phone call Oswald made from the Mexican capital to the Soviet Embassy "using his own name" and speaking "broken Russian". The documents show that Oswald was hoping to travel through Cuba on his way to Russia and was seeking a visa.

There were initial concerns that Jack Ruby -- a nightclub owner who fatally shot Oswald two days after the assassination -- might have had some connection to Kennedy's killer. But a memo to the presidential commission investigating the assassination in September 1964, newly released, said the CIA had "no indication" that they had ever been "connected in any manner".

In 1992 the US Congress ordered that all remaining sealed files on the investigation should be made public by October 2017, except for those the president authorised for further withholding.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump released some, but decided to release the remaining documents on a rolling basis. 

All remaining JFK files were originally supposed to have been released in October 2021, but President Biden postponed the move, citing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.They were then meant to be disclosed in two batches: in December 2021 and another by December 15, 2022, after undergoing an intensive one-year review.

The CIA said that with Thursday’s release, 95% of the documents in its JFK assassination records collection have been released in their entirety. No documents will remain redacted or withheld in full after an "intensive one-year review" of all previously unreleased information, the intelligence agency said.

Biden said a review of still undisclosed documents would continue until 1 May 2023, after which date any withheld information would be released by 30 June -- unless agencies recommended continued postponement.