DUBAI, July 17 (CNN) - US citizen Asim Ghafoor, the former lawyer of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was sentenced by a court in the United Arab Emirates to three years in prison, state news WAM reported Saturday.

The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering Court convicted Ghafoor of committing "two crimes of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in his country and sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of three million dirhams [$US 816,748], with deportation from the UAE," according to WAM.

Ghafoor, who is also a co-founder and board member of their organization, was detained by UAE security agents at Dubai International Airport, human rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) had said in a Friday news release.

According to WAM, the case came up when American authorities asked for judicial assistance from the UAE regarding their investigations of Ghafoor for alleged tax evasion and making suspicious money transfers to the UAE, which prompted Abu Dhabi's inquiry into his bank accounts.

The UAE Public Prosecution (PP) in Abu Dhabi started to implement and study the judicial assistance request and verify the nature of the financial transactions related to the accounts and bank transfer, WAM reported. The PP reportedly found suspicion of a money laundering crime that occurred in the country.

The PP "praised the mutual coordination to combat transnational crimes with the United States, which led to the arrest of the accused, and his presentation to the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court in accordance with the legal procedures established in this regard," WAM reported.

The US State Department responded to Ghafoor's sentencing Saturday.

"We are aware of the arrest of U.S. citizen Asim Ghafoor in the UAE. We have raised his detention at senior levels with Emirati authorities and requested additional information. We are watching his case closely and providing appropriate consular support; consular officers from the U.S. Embassy visited him today," a State Department spokesperson said. "We have conveyed our expectation that Mr. Ghafoor's rights to a fair and public hearing and to fair trial guarantees be fully respected and that he be treated humanely, as well as that U.S. rights to consular access be fully respected."