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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Trump delays release of some JFK files after intelligence concerns

The US president did, however, approve the release of 28,000 records held at the US National Archives

The release of the John F Kennedy papers may shed new light on the motivations of his killer. AP Photo
The release of the John F Kennedy papers may shed new light on the motivations of his killer. AP Photo

For more than 50 years conspiracy theorists have been waiting for all of the John F Kennedy assassination archives to be made public.

Now it appears they are going to have a wait a little longer.

After announcing that the final slew of documents would be made public on Thursday, President Donald Trump is delaying the release of some files after the FBI and CIA asked for them to stay secret.

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"I have no choice," Mr Trump said in a memo, according to White House officials who spoke to the Associated Press.

He did however approve the release of 28,000 records held at the US National Archives and told security officials that only the most sensitive documents should stay secret beyond the next six months.

Kennedy was shot dead on 22 November 1963 as his motorcade drove through Dallas, Texas.

The National Archives had already released millions of pages of evidence related to the assassination and the investigation but a final tranche stayed locked away until now.

A federal law required them all to be released on 26 October 2017, unless the President decided otherwise.

Much of the day passed with no explanation from either the White House or the National Archives about whether they would meet the deadline.

Inevitably it led to a fresh round of conspiracy theories.

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, tweeted: “US intelligence agencies seem to be determined to make Trump look weak by delaying JFK files after he promised their release today.”

Amateur sleuths are hoping the files go some way to answering questions that still surround Kennedy’s death today. Many are unconvinced by the official investigation which concluded he was the victim of a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

While many historians believe the documents will not offer any radically new evidence, they admit the papers may shed some light on why Oswald spent six days in Mexico City shortly before he killed Kennedy. Some sceptics of the official version believe Oswald made the trip to meet his handlers.

The release comes at a time when conspiracy theories swirl through every facet of American life.

Last year’s election will be remembered as much for the spread of “fake news” by Twitter bots and Russian hacking as any substantive policy debates.

And the murder of Kennedy remains the subject of particularly intense speculation.

His status as a liberal Catholic meant there was no shortage of potential suspects who may have been working with Oswald, from elements tied to the Mafia, the Soviet Union or Cuba to America’s own security services.

Last year, Mr Trump claimed that the father of Ted Cruz, a rival for the Republican nomination, had been with Oswald shortly before he murdered President Kennedy.

And Roger Stone, one of his long-time allies, has advances the unsubstantiated theory that Lyndon Johnson, the vice-president who succeeded Kennedy on his death, was involved.

The release was long in the planning.

In 1992, in the wake of Oliver Stone’s paranoid investigation set out in film JFK, Congress passed an act directing the National Archives to collect information about the assassination and release it within 25 years – barring any restrictions designated by the president.

The set the deadline of 26 October for everything to be published.