1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

JFK assassination: US releases trove of files

December 16, 2022

The newly released documents include later testimonies from KGB officers about Lee Harvey Oswald's time in the Soviet Union. Around 97% of JFK files have now been released to the public.

John F. Kennedy in his motorcade before being assassinated
John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963Image: Cinema Publishers Collection/imago images

The US National Archives released 13,173 documents relating to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy on Thursday.

The latest release means 97% of documents related to the assassination have now been made public. It follows a similar release of files by the Trump administration in 2017.

However, the White House still withheld thousands of documents at the request of unspecified government agencies.

In a memorandum on Thursday, US President Joe Biden said the National Archives and relevant agencies "shall jointly review the remaining redactions in the records that had not been publicly disclosed."

He said that "any information withheld from public disclosure that agencies do not recommend for continued postponement" will be released by June 30, 2023.

What do the new documents contain?

The bulk of the documents released on Thursday concerned Lee Harvey Oswald, who was convicted of assassinating Kennedy in November 1963.

Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 before returning to the United States in 1962.

A 1963 document describes how CIA officials in Mexico City "intercepted a telephone call" Oswald made to the Soviet Embassy there "using his own name" and speaking "broken Russian."

Also among the newly released files was one 1990 document that recounts a debriefing of a former KGB officer. The officer said Oswald was recruited by the KGB after defecting but was considered to be "a bit crazy and unpredictable."

The officer said the KGB had no further contact with Oswald after he returned to the United States and denied any official mission to assassinate the president.

Another document from 1991 cites a different KGB source who said Oswald was "at no time an agent controlled by the KGB."

Major bombshells unlikely

Thousands of books, articles, TV shows and films have explored the idea that Kennedy's assassination was the result of an elaborate conspiracy — all without conclusive proof.

Kennedy scholars say the latest trove of documents to be released is unlikely to reveal any major bombshells or put to rest the countless conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

zc/sms (Reuters, AFP)