A wooden silhouette of the young John F Kennedy Jr saluting his father's casket stands at the spot on Elm Street where President Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. Picture: REUTERS
A wooden silhouette of the young John F Kennedy Jr saluting his father's casket stands at the spot on Elm Street where President Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — US President Donald Trump says he will allow long-blocked secret files on the assassination of John F Kennedy to be opened to the public for the first time.

The November 22 1963 assassination — an epochal event in modern US history — has spawned multiple theories challenging the official version that Kennedy was killed by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.

So the release of all the secret documents has been eagerly anticipated by historians and conspiracy theorists alike. Trump’s announcement on Saturday followed reports that not all the files would be released, possibly to protect still relevant intelligence sources and methods.

But Trump appears to have decided otherwise.

"Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened," he said in a tweet.

The files are due to be opened in their entirety on Thursday, nearly 54 years after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas — unless the US president decides otherwise.

Millions of classified Kennedy files have been made public under a 1992 law passed in response to a surge in public demand for disclosure in the wake of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-heavy movie on the assassination.

But the law placed a 25-year hold on a small percentage of the files that expires on October 26.

Some reports put the number withheld at 3,100. Tens of thousands of files that had been released with portions blacked out are also set to be fully declassified.

"The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency, unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise," a White House official said.

Kennedy was the fourth US president to be cut down by an assassin’s bullets, and his death at age 46 proved a traumatic turning point as the US headed into a period of turbulence over civil rights and the Vietnam War.

The shocking images of Jacqueline Kennedy cradling her mortally wounded husband in the back of an open presidential limousine froze the moment in the public consciousness.

A 10-month investigation led by then Supreme Court chief justice Earl Warren concluded that Oswald, a former Marine who had lived in the Soviet Union, acted alone when he fired on Kennedy’s motorcade, hitting the president with two shots, one through the upper back and the other in the head.

Oswald, arrested two hours later after murdering a Dallas police officer, was shot to death two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby as he was being transferred from the city jail.

The Warren commission’s finding was challenged in 1979 by a special House investigative committee that concluded Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy", and that there were likely two shooters.

A welter of conspiracy theories have arisen over the years, variously blaming Fidel Castro, the mafia, the KGB, Lyndon Johnson and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Stone’s controversial 1991 movie JFK managed to implicate Johnson, the mafia and the CIA.

AFP

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